Doris Speed, MBE (3 February 1899 – 16 November 1994) was an English actress, best known for her role as the snooty but likeable Mayoress of fictional Weatherfield and Rovers Return Inn public house landlady Annie Walker on Coronation Street, a role she played from the series inception in 1960 until 1983.

Doris Speed MBE
Born3 February 1899
Manchester, Lancashire, England
Died16 November 1994(1994-11-16) (aged 95)
Bury, England
OccupationActress
Years active1957–1983, 1990
Known forRole of Annie Walker
TelevisionCoronation Street (1960–1983)

Early life and careerEdit

As a child she toured with her musical and comedy artist parents George and Ada (née Worsley) Speed, moving to different schools almost every week. Her debut came to her at the age of three years, as she toddled onstage in a nightdress to sing a song about a golliwog. Two years later, she made her acting debut as the velvet-suited infant Prince of Rome in a Victorian melodrama, called The Royal Divorce.[1]

She then appeared in repertory theatres and in numerous radio plays. She left acting to work for, amongst others, the Guinness brewery in Manchester, as a clerk. Returning to acting relatively late in life, she had a small role in the 1960 Stanley Baker vehicle Hell Is a City, set in her native Manchester.[1]

She also worked on a 1950s police television series Shadow Squad. In 1960, close friend and writer of Shadow Squad Tony Warren created the soap opera Coronation Street, purportedly writing the character of Annie Walker specifically for her. She appeared in 1,746 episodes and was one of only a handful of original cast members still appearing in the 1980s. In 1983, the Daily Mirror published a story revealing that Speed was 15 years older than she said she was (though her birth certificate, which showed she was born in 1899 and not 1914 as she had always claimed, was not printed alongside the story).[2] She fainted when she learned the news, while at work on Coronation Street, and was advised to go home to rest. Weeks later, burglars robbed her house while she was asleep. She never returned to the programme. The stress surrounding the incidents caused her to have a minor breakdown, and she left the show to live the rest of her days in a nursing home, although she made a guest appearance in the 30th anniversary special programme, Happy Birthday Coronation Street in 1990, where she was given a standing ovation.[3]

Her final television appearance was an interview given with actor Ken Farrington (her on-screen son) in 1993. She died in 1994, at the age of 95. [4]

Personal lifeEdit

Doris Speed never married. She lived in Southport for many years until returning to Manchester to care for her mother after she became ill. Her mother was a former music hall performer, and died in 1973 aged 97.

Unlike the Tory-minded Annie Walker, Speed was a lifelong socialist.[5]

HonoursEdit

She was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) on 29 November 1977.[citation needed]

LegacyEdit

Speed is commemorated by two plaques in her native Manchester: one outside Granada Studios, where she filmed most of her work as Annie Walker, and another at 13 Sibson Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, her home for many years.[6]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Doris Speed on IMDb
  2. ^ "Doris Speed".
  3. ^ "Doris Speed on Happy Birthday Coronation Street". 9 December 1990. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  4. ^ "Death of Doris Speed". YouTube.com. 1 February 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  5. ^ "The REAL 1970s: "Yes, Mrs Walker!" The Rovers Return, 1970-1979". Real70s.blogspot.com. 23 November 2006. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Historical plaques about Doris Speed". openplaques.org. Retrieved 7 August 2013.